Obama Puts New Obstacle in Coal Industry's Way

President to announce stop to new coal-mining leases on federal land
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2016 9:40 AM CST
Obama Puts New Obstacle in Coal Industry's Way
In this April 30, 2007, file photo, a shovel prepares to dump a load of coal into a 320-ton truck at the Black Thunder mine in Wright, Wyo.   (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

During his SOTU address Tuesday, President Obama forewarned he'd "push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources." Today, part of that blueprint is set to become more clear, with an expected announcement by the president to stop all new coal-mining leases on public lands as the administration advances its initiative to reduce carbon emissions—an initiative the GOP has deemed "the war on coal," the New York Times reports. Per Reuters, a 10am EST news conference was to detail the plan further, according to an Interior Department statement. The halt will stay in place during a review that will weigh the environmental costs of coal production against the fees paid by mining companies to the government, the AP notes.

The AP reports that 40% of US coal is produced on federal lands, most of it out West in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. "It appears that they're going after the federal coal leasing program with the intention of keeping coal in the ground," a rep for the National Mining Association tells the Times, which observes that the move would "represent a significant setback for the coal industry," as well as possibly drive investors further away from an industry already in peril. But the AP notes the impact this suspension will have isn't clear, as a) coal isn't in as high demand in the US as it once was, and b) coal companies have stashed away billions of tons of coal on land already leased; an administration official adds that companies can still tap into reserves already under lease. (Read more President Obama stories.)

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